- Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in the Danish capital of Copenhagen wearing burqas and other face veils to protest a law against facial coverings
- The ban was presented by the centre-right governing coalition
- People who do not follow new rule can be fined over £100 for a first offence, with figure rising to £1,200 or a jail sentence of up to six months
Hundreds of women in Denmark have gathered wearing burqas and niqabs in protest of a new law banning face coverings, The Independent UK reports.
The centre-right governing coalition which has become known for ramping up asylum and immigration rules in recent years, presented the ban.
Denmark is the latest European country to ban items of clothing that cover the face including Islamic veils such as the niqab or burqa after the parliament approved the ban in May.
The Danish law which was passed in May and came into effect Wednesday, August 1, means people found wearing facial coverings in public could be fined over £100 for a first offence – with the figure rising to £1,200 or a jail sentence of up to six months.
A Danish MP for the ruling liberal party Venstre, Marcus Knuth, argued the dress worn by some conservative Muslim women was “strongly oppressive”.
The face covering ban which is predominantly seen as being directed at the niqab and burqa is subject to a number of exemptions including bicycle and motorbike helmets and clothing which offers insulation from cold weather.
It permits people to cover their face when there is a “recognisable purpose”. The law does not include turbans, headscarves or Jewish skull caps.
Few Muslim women in Denmark wear full-face veils – with a 2010 report estimating that up to 200 women in the country of 5.7 million wore them.
Sabina, a Muslim protester and wears a niqab, speaking to CNN said it would have "huge consequences" on her life.
"Every time I step outside my front door, I am a criminal. I have to stay in my house, isolated. I cannot go to the grocery store, I cannot go out. Wearing this is an important spiritual choice for me. And now it is also a sign of protest. Every time the government does this, they make me firmer in my belief," she said.
Police have said protesters who planned to fully cover their faces at the demonstrations would not be at risk of being issued with a fine.
A spokesperson for Kvinder I Dialog (Women In Dialogue), a group which is opposed to the ban, told The Independent a “huge demonstration” is taking place and they would not be “bending the knee to injustice”.
Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s deputy Europe director, told The Independent: “All women should be free to dress as they please and to wear clothing that expresses their identity or beliefs. This ban will have a particularly negative impact on Muslim women who choose to wear the niqab or burqa.
“Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full-face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, this blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates women’s rights to freedom of expression and religion.
“If the intention of this law was to protect women’s rights it fails abjectly. Instead, the law criminalises women for their choice of clothing – making a mockery of the freedoms Denmark purports to uphold.”
NAIJ.com previously reported that lawmakers in Netherlands on Tuesday, June 26, passed a law banning the wearing of face-covering veils in public buildings.
According the Dutch Upper House of parliament, the face-covering can't be worn in schools, government offices and hospitals, US News reports.
In 2016 the Lower House approved the bill in 2016, after attempts to impose a more general ban on burqas and other face-covering veils failed.
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